I have a love hate relationship with dairy. On the one hand, I'm completely lactose intolerant with a newly discovered understanding that humans aren't meant to drink milk after infancy, much less the milk from boobs that aren't our mama's boobs. On the other hand...well, I'm still lactose intolerant, but I love milk, cream, butter, and cheese uncontrollably. Gluttonous I know. What can I say, I'm only human.
It may come as no surprise then, that when it was raining free buffalo sauce samples outside my local Kroger grocery last week, the only thing that made sense was to trickle a couple bottles of it from the door to the kitchen, cleverly staging a fake homicide scene. Well, that and flooding a baking dish with a curious amount of smoky buffalo sauce, pungent cheeses, and delightfully fatty cream in what I like to call the world's best buffalo macaroni and cheese. The thing about dairy that gets me excited like a schoolgirl is that its so sinfully rich, unashamedly fatty, and full of body in any of its many forms, from dense and luscious European cultured butters to velvety lava-like buttermilk and fresh creams. Is there anything better than a slice of artisanal cheese drizzled in wildflower honey paired with a glass of full bodied wine? Sex maybe, but my take on this orgasmic baked macaroni with a crumbly golden crust will have you saying KY who!
I'm no Mario Batali, and I doubt you claim to be either, so let this recipe be a canvas for you to experiment with hand crafted cheeses from your travels, revered creamery butters touted about in gourmet magazines, or any of your favorite milks and creams at your local market, (so long as any and everything is organic, you want milk not antibiotics with a side of dairy). What happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen. Except of course when it ends up in the bedroom. A girl's gotta have her bowl of after-hour dark chocolate ice cream.
adapted from Food Network
- 7 tbs organic unsalted butter, plus more fro the dish
- 1 pound organic elbow macaroni
- 1 small organic onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves organic garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s because they were free!)
- 2 tbs organic flour
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 1/2 cups organic half-and-half (or mix equal parts milk and cream like I did)
- 16 oz organic sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 oz organic pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 2/3 cup organic sour cream
- 1 cup panko crumbs (I used Parmesan herb, but you can use plain and add two tb of fresh parsley)
- Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add two more tablespoons butter in the saucepan and stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.
- Spread macaroni in the prepared baking dish and pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.
- Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.